The Stargate fan base is nothing if not fruitfully diverse, and Michael Shanks (“Dr. Daniel Jackson”) has been one of several actors at the epicenter for over a decade.
The franchise’s third incarnation, Stargate Universe, is due to hit the airwaves this fall. The established fandom is once again reaching out with its diversity of opinions, and battle lines are being drawn.
Shanks has seen this firsthand, both in online message boards and at the Creation 2009 Chicago convention where we had the chance to catch up with him.
“I’ve never seen so many knives being sharpened for a show being aired, especially by the fans of the franchise, as I’ve seen over this past year when it came to Universe,” Shanks told GateWorld’s Chad Colvin. “I’ve also seen a lot of love for it. … But I’m just kind of surprised at the waiting-in-the-wings tension that is almost desirous for this thing to fall on its face. And I think that’s a mistake.”
Shanks has already filmed two guest spots for Universe, including the pilot episode for the series in which he makes a cameo. But it’s enough for him to draw some conclusions from the scripts he has read and the professionalism he has seen on set.
“The shows, at the end of each episode, they don’t wrap up nicely in a nice little bow,” Shanks said. “They’re not bottle shows. It’s very much an arc driven series. The interplay between the characters bleeds into the next one and the next one. The tensions and the relationships … So it’s very arc driven. By missing an episode of SG-1, eh, no big deal. Missing an episode of this might be a bit confusing for the viewers.
“I think that one of things that people should respect about this show is that what they’ve always felt about the Stargate universe is that they love the characters. They want to know the characters more. This show is going to allow you to do that. More so than we had the opportunities in doing it in our series. If that is what people always loved about it, this is the show that’s going to give [it to them].
“Is it going to have as much humor in it? I don’t know. I haven’t seen it. I doubt it. But there’s certainly going to be a lot more character driven drama, angst, conflict and relationship interaction than ever in a Stargate show.”
Many fans of SG-1 and Atlantis have already made up their minds about whether or not they will give SGU a chance. Shanks suggests that we reserve judgment and risk a couple of hours on the pilot.
“I think the most important thing is watch the show,” he said. “Judge from what you see. I didn’t think much about it until I watched the trailer that they had done for the pilot and I went ‘Wow! This looks cool!’ And I know from interacting with that cast, they’ve got a great group there. They have some amazing actors led by the profoundly amazing Robert Carlyle, who I couldn’t say enough about. I think it’s worth a look. I think you’re going to be pleasantly surprised.”
One thing is certain: Universe will give birth to many brand new Stargate fans who will be watching to see if we are a group worth joining. Those of us already aboard the franchise will have to make room.
Watch GateWorld for the exclusive interview with Michael Shanks in the weeks to come! Stargate Universe premieres October 2 on SyFy in the United States.